Understanding workplace expectations : a study of the perceptions of prelingually deaf workers and employers

  • Kathleen Rosengreen

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This study examined the understanding of workplace expectations of a group of deaf workers. Nine males and fifteen females, ranging in ages 18 to 48,all prelingually deaf, and whose preferred mode of communication was Auslan (Australian Sign Language),participated in the study. All had a history of extended periods of unemployment, interspersed with short-term vocational training courses that had not resulted in long-term employment. Ten of the participants were individuals identified as low-functioning deaf (LFD) characterised by their limited communication skills in sign language, English and presence of secondary disabilities. The purpose of this research was to investigate the extent the deaf participants understood employer expectations and how this knowledge may have impacted their employment success. Each deaf participant completed a 25-item written questionnaire exploring their views about workplace behaviours. A group of 100 employers from the Western Sydney area completed the same survey. The 24 deaf participants were interviewed regarding how they prioritised the items in the questionnaire and were asked to describe their workplace experiences. Subsequently, both data sets were analysed and compared. The participants were divided into four subgroups based on their employment status: employed/unemployed and functional levels: medium/LFD. Analysis of questionnaire rankings indicated the employed participants' responses showed good understanding of employer expectations. Results for the unemployed participants were divided; the rankings for the medium-functioning unemployed participants were very similar to the employed participants except in four areas. Predictably, the unemployed participants with LFD demonstrated a much lower understanding of employer expectations. The qualitative interviews provided further insight into the deaf participants' attitudes towards employment and the importance of meeting employer expectations. Additionally the interview transcripts identified many workplace problems experienced by the deaf participants which contribute to a lack of correspondence. The findings suggest deaf workers' dissatisfaction with their workplace conditions may play a role in their ability to sustain employment. Therefore, meeting employer expectations can be seen as only one of many components of successful employment. The findings suggest that both deaf workers and employers would benefit from greater understanding of each others' perspectives about the workplace. Seven topics are recommended for inclusion in future curricula. Better understanding of each others' views can support improved workplace relationships, employment retention and satisfaction levels.
    Date of Award2007
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAlison Elliott (Supervisor)

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